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Enter Time, the Chorus


I, that please some, try all, both joy and terror
Of good and bad, that makes and unfolds error,
Now take upon me, in the name of Time,
To use my wings. Impute it not a crime
5To me or my swift passage, that I slide
O’er sixteen years and leave the growth untried
Of that wide gap, since it is in my power
To o’erthrow law and in one self-born hour
To plant and o’erwhelm custom. Let me pass
10The same I am, ere ancient’st order was
Or what is now received: I witness to
The times that brought them in; so shall I do
To the freshest things now reigning and make stale
The glistering of this present, as my tale
15Now seems to it. Your patience this allowing,
I turn my glass and give my scene such growing
As you had slept between: Leontes leaving,
The effects of his fond jealousies so grieving
That he shuts up himself, imagine me,
20Gentle spectators, that I now may be
In fair Bohemia, and remember well,
I mentioned a son o’ the king’s, which Florizel
I now name to you; and with speed so pace
To speak of Perdita, now grown in grace
25Equal with wondering: what of her ensues
I list not prophecy; but let Time’s news
Be known when ’tis brought forth.
A shepherd’s daughter,
And what to her adheres, which follows after,
30Is the argument of Time. Of this allow,
If ever you have spent time worse ere now;
If never, yet that Time himself doth say
He wishes earnestly you never may.


I am taking up my wings, in the name of Time, which pleases some, tests all, brings both joy and terror, makes errors and corrects them. Don’t see it as a crime that I pass quickly over sixteen years and leave that wide gap unexamined, as I have the power to overthrow the laws of nature and, in one hour, to establish or topple custom. Let me remain as I’ve been since before civilization began through what currently is. I saw the times that led to the present, and as I did to the past, I’ll make the youngest things old and dim the shine of the present until it, too, is old. If your patience allows, I’ll turn my hourglass and move the scene forward as if you had slept through it all. Leontes mourns the terrible results of his foolish jealousy so much that he shuts himself away. Then imagine, dear spectators, that I am now in fair Bohemia, where a son of the king, named Florizel, lives. And quickly I’ll speak of Perdita, grown into a young woman so graceful she inspires admiration. I won’t prophecy what will happen to her, but let Time reveal it. She is a shepherd’s daughter, and what pertains to her is the provenance of Time. Allow this leap in time if ever before now you’ve spent time in a worse way. If you haven’t, Time himself hopes you never will.